With basketball on a hiatus, we’re breaking down some prospects the Milwaukee Bucks could target with the Indiana Pacers’ first round pick they currently hold. Here’s the 411 on Theo Maledon, a combo guard out of France.
Position: Combo Guard
Weight: 174 pounds
Per Game Stats:
|2017-18||Lyon-Villeurbanne||LNB Pro A||9||3.6||0.2||1.1||.200||0.0||0.7||.000||0.2||0.4||.500||.500||0.6||0.4||0.0||0.0||0.2||0.6|
|2018-19||Lyon-Villeurbanne||LNB Pro A||33||17.8||2.4||4.9||.491||0.8||2.1||.406||1.5||2.8||.554||.868||2.1||2.2||0.9||0.2||1.6||7.4|
|2019-20||ASVEL||LNB Pro A||20||15.6||2.0||5.0||.390||0.8||2.6||.294||1.2||2.5||.490||.902||2.0||1.9||0.6||0.1||1.5||6.5|
Theo Maledon is an artist in the making when it comes to distributing the basketball. He may never develop great dribbling skills, but his feel, court vision and willingness to pass to the open teammate are all booming with potential. This makes him a great candidate to play as a combo guard alongside another primary ball-handler. He’s a smart basketball player who has no issue taking what the defense giving him. He could stand to be a bit more aggressive with the rock in his hands, but he’s likely shy due to his average athletic ability. At 6’5”, he has good length with a near 6’9” wingspan which allows him to get creative around the rim and bother opposing ball-handlers at the opposite end of the court. Speaking of defense, he’s lackadaisical with his stance and can be beaten off the bounce due to slow lateral quickness.
Court Vision: When given space, Maledon does a great job seeing the court and feeding teammates who might not initially seem open. He’s able to find his guys with a variety of passes. He has no issue dropping a pocket pass out of the pick and roll or throwing it over the top of the defense given his great height for a combo guard. He’s working hard on improving his game in the pick-and-roll, and has a lot of potential to become a master manipulator in the NBA’s most common play.
Unselfishness: His teammates are going to love playing with him, as he’d rather set his guys up for an easy score than take it himself. Although that unselfishness sometimes gets him in trouble when he has open looks at the basket, it’s clear he’s a team-oriented player.
Length: At 6’5” with a 6’8.5” wingspan, he has great length for a combo guard. Once he fully understands how to use his body (and adds strength), he’ll be able to routinely guard points and wings. In a league that depends heavily on versatility and the ability to defend, and play, multiple positions, Maledon fits the bill.
Pick-and-Roll: Maledon has the potential to turn into a dangerous threat in the pick-and-roll. He does the basics well, as he can see the whole court and is patient enough to take what the defense gives him. He’s already begun to make more advanced reads and could really thrive with ball screens. As he adds strength and confidence to his game, he’ll only become more dangerous in this element.
Athleticism: Based on athleticism alone, you’d never know Maledon will blossom into an NBA rotational player. It’s not that he’s a bad athlete, but he doesn’t possess above-average speed, leaping ability or quickness. He simply exists in the field of athleticism. Despite his height, he relies more on crafty finishes that depend on his length more than anything else. He can throw it down when given a runway. Lateral quickness is the biggest area he’s lacking, as it’s not uncommon for ball-handlers to drive right past him on the perimeter.
Defensive Footwork: Far too often, he’s way too upright when guarding someone with the ball. He was asked to pressure full court a lot on his current team and sometimes he had success. However, he was reckless more often than he should be. As soon as his man attacked off the bounce, his upright frame turns into sloppy defense and casual slides. It’s not that he’s a lazy or careless on-ball defender, but the film can certainly paint that picture at times for the youngster.
- Plays on the same team as former University of Wisconsin basketball star Jordan Taylor.
- Doesn’t have tight handles, struggles when there’s ball pressure
- Plays under control at all times
- He’s good when he hops into his shot off the bounce.
- Has the potential to thrive in the pick-and-roll in the NBA.
- Sweet in-and-out dribble with his right hand.
Lack of Explosiveness
In many ways, Maledon would fit nicely with the current Bucks’ roster. Despite not turning 19-years-old until June, he’s played professional basketball since he was 17 and is used to playing against more athletic players. That’s a positive, as his game is still developing and he would benefit tremendously from being brought along slowly.
He’ll need to improve his ball-handling at the next level, but has the potential to run the Bucks’ offense as long as he’s sharing the court with another facilitator (Khris Middleton, Donte DiVincenzo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe or George Hill). He’ll probably never develop into someone who can run an offense on his own.
He also has the ability to defend wings and has the length to lock them down. He’ll definitely need to add strength, as he reportedly only weighs 174 pounds. The good news is he has broad shoulders and a frame that should allow him to add lean muscle.
Maledon might be a bit more of a project than the Bucks want at this point, but it’s not inconceivable to think he could stay overseas for a little while longer, allowing him to continue to craft his game, as the Bucks continue to focus on winning now.